DILG disarms cops in Sulu fatal shooting; NBI to investigate

Marje Pelayo   •   June 30, 2020   •   504

MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año has ordered the disarming of the nine policemen involved in a shooting incident with soldiers in Jolo, Sulu.

Based on the investigation of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the nine policemen responded to a call from a colleague from the Drug Enforcement Unit after seeing an alleged suspicious vehicle believed to have been watching them for days.

Tawag ng isang taga-DEU na iyong sighted na sasakyan noong isang araw ay nakita na naman doon sa tapat niya,” explained PBGen. Manuel Abu, Director of Police Regional Office – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR).

[There was a call from a member of the Drug Enforcement Unit saying the vehicle that was sighted days before appeared again in the area.]

The official said the nine policemen, who were patrolling in the area at that time, immediately fled to the scene and accosted the four armed men in civilian clothing. 

Abu said the soldiers identified themselves but instead of presenting proper documents for identification, the soldiers shouted at the cops. 

“Sabi ng pulis para hindi na lamang sila magtalo doon sa daan, doon na lamang sila mag usap sa istasyon for identification talaga,” General Abu continued. 

[The cop explained that to avoid an altercation, they invited the men to the police station so they could talk and for proper identification of the men.]

“Pagdating sa police station imbes na tumigil sila, nauuna iyong sasakyan ng Army kasi, tumakbo. Hinabol ng pulis sakay ng mobile. Naka uniform naman ang pulis. Sila ay naka-sibilyan,” he added.

[Upon reaching the police station, the soldier’s vehicle which was at the front of the convoy did not stop. The police mobile chased them. The police were in uniform, they were in civilian clothes.]

The police pursued the soldiers and were able to catch them in the midst of the traffic. 

Abu said two of the soldiers got off the vehicle with their firearms on. 

Iyong isa may bitbit na M4 at nagkaputukan na. Iyong isa naka short firearms. So may intensyon,” he said. 

[One of them was holding an M4 (rifle) then a gunfight erupted. The other one was holding a shorter firearm. The intention was there.]

The Philippine Army Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM), on the other hand, said that the four men were members of the military intelligence unit and were on official mission thus they were in civilian clothes. 

[The four soldiers] were on official function,” said WESMINCOM Spokesperson Major Arvin Encinas.

“They were doing their jobs during that time at yan po ang malinaw at sila po ay binaril ng [and it’s very clear that they were shot by] PNP personnel,” he added.

The DILG has now placed the involved policemen under custody at the PNP Provincial Headquarters and were asked to surrender their firearms for ballistic tests. 

For now, both the leadership of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) agreed to allow the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to handle the investigation for impartiality. 

Gusto po naming mabigyan ng kasagutan ang lahat ng mga [We want to get answers for all the] allegations on both side,” Encinas noted.

The four soldiers killed in the incident were:

  • Major Marvin Indammog;
  • Capt. Irwin Managuelod;
  • Sgt. Jaime Velasco: and
  • Corporal Abdal Asula

MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

NBI exec, brother face raps over alleged pastillas scam

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed graft and extortion complaints against its official and his brother from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) over the alleged ‘pastillas scheme.’

Atty. Joshua Paul Capiral, NBI’s legal assistance chief, and his brother, Christopher John, an officer at the BI’s medical section, underwent inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice on Wednesday morning.

The brothers are facing extortion complaints under the Revised Penal Code, and violation of the Anti-Graft Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Executive Order No. 608 which established the national security clearance system for government personnel with access to classified matters.

The two were arrested in an entrapment operation on Monday night for allegedly receiving bribes from individuals implicated in the pastillas scheme in exchange for exclusion from the charges.

Nineteen Immigration officers allegedly linked to the pastillas scheme are currently facing charges filed by the NBI at the Office of the Ombudsman last month.

The modus was called pastillas, derived from a Filipino sweet and sticky dessert, because the bribe money that some personnel receive were wrapped in paper.

The scheme allegedly takes advantage of Chinese casino high-rollers and offshore gaming workers who wish to be escorted to dodge the immigration screening process for a fee.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has ordered a reinvestigation into the pastillas scheme.

“Considering that the NBI investigation appeared to have been tainted, I will order a reinvestigation of the so-called ‘pastillas’ racket involving some unscrupulous BI employees,” he said in message to reporters.

Meanwhile, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente welcomed the development and assured support for the drive to cleanse the agency of corruption.

Morente also vowed to continue its campaign against corruption activities within the agency.

“We will continue to pursue our campaign against BI personnel engaged in corrupt activities in coordination with NBI and other law enforcement agencies in support of President Duterte’s desire to cleanse the agency,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Drilon wants NBI legal exec tagged in ‘pastillas scheme’ disbarred

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Frankiln Drilon on Wednesday urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to file a disbarment case against its official who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the ‘pastillas scheme’ in the Bureau of Immigration.

Drilon made the call following the arrest of Atty. Joshua Capiral, NBI’s head of legal assistance division, for allegedly accepting bribes from persons involved in the modus in exchange for exclusion from charges.

“Bantay salakay ang tawag dito. Yung inatasan na mag-imbestiga sa katiwalian sila yung gumagawa ng katiwalian,” he said in an interview over Teleradyo.

“He is a disgrace to the legal profession. We lawyers took an oath to tell nothing but the truth. Capiral violated that sacred oath of lawyers. All he did in the NBI is to enrich himself through corruption,” he added.

When asked whether the case of Capiral warrants a Senate investigation, Drilon said he will support an investigation if there is evidence of massive corruption in NBI – like in the case of PhilHealth and the Bureau of Immigration.

“At this point I think there is no evidence of massive corruption in the NBI. This is a laudable move for the NBI to arrest one of its members. The NBI should make an example out of Capiral that corruption has no place in the agency,” Drilon said.

“If we do not address this, everybody will believe that they can bribe the NBI and having that perception is not good in the fight against corruption,” he added.

Capiral was nabbed in an entrapment operation on Monday night. He underwent inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice on Wednesday morning.

The two are facing complaints for extortion under the Revised Penal Code and violation of the Anti-Graft Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employee, and Executive Order No. 608 which established a national security clearance system for government personnel with access to classified matters.

Drilon said that Capiral’s case is among the reasons why the public tend to lose confidence in the government’s ability to stop corruption.

“This is one of the reasons why Filipinos are losing faith in the ability of the government to fight corruption. This only shows how rampant corruption is today,” he said.

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NBI ordered to probe identity of body said to be Echanis

Robie de Guzman   •   August 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday said it has directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to determine the identity of the person slain in Novaliches, Quezon City, following claims that the deceased was peasant activist and peace consultant Randall Echanis and not Manuel Santiago as reported by police.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he also ordered the department’s special investigation team tasked to probe cause-oriented killings to look into Echanis’ killing.

He, however, stressed that the victim’s identity must be ascertained first before the task force starts its investigation due to “emerging confusion.”

He said he will refer the question on the identity of the body to the NBI Forensic Division.

Once the victim’s identity is verified, the Administrative Order (AO) 35 Task Force, which is assigned to investigate the killings of persons on account of their advocacies, will probe the incident.

The special investigation team was formed in 2012 pursuant to AO 35.

The Quezon City Police District earlier said that the person killed inside his rented apartment in Novaliches was a certain Manuel Santiago based on the identification card found in the scene and the landlord’s statement.

Another person, identified as Louie Tagapia, was also found dead along with Santiago.

The Anakpawis and other militant groups, however, claimed that one of the victims was Echanis, a peasant advocate and peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The family also declared that the slain person was Echanis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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